Dog bites can be extremely serious. They can lead to permanent scarring and disfigurement, PTSD, repeated surgeries, reconstruction surgeries, huge medical bills, nerve damage, and even wrongful death. But who is liable for these damages? Is the dangerous dog’s owner responsible in all cases?
Unlike a number of states, Texas does not have a specific law addressing dog bites and attacks; however, in Marshall v. Ranne (1974), the Texas Supreme Court ruled that Texas would be a “one bite rule” or “negligence” state in dog bite cases.
When someone files a dog bite claim in Texas, they need to prove that:
- The dog’s owner must have known the dog had been aggressive in the past, or
- The dog’s owner knew the dog had bitten someone before, or
- The dog’s owner was negligent in that he or she did not use reasonable care to prevent their dog from biting and as a result, an innocent person was bitten.
What About Strict Liability?
While the state’s “one bite” or “negligence” rule pertains to the majority of dog bite cases, in some situations the courts will apply what’s called a “strict liability” rule. This happens in cases where the dog’s viciousness was known and undisputable. In these cases, the owner knew the dog was dangerous and the dog bite was no mystery; it occurred because of the dog’s dangerous nature. A dog can also be classified as “dangerous” if he or she has bitten someone before.
In the context of “strict liability,” the injured party does not have to prove the owner failed to be cautious and control their dog. Instead, the injured party should be able to win their lawsuit by demonstrating that the owner knew their dog was dangerous.
There are two ways in particular, that a dog’s owner may be able to defend their case: 1) the owner had no idea the dog was dangerous, and 2) the injured party was trespassing on the owner’s property and the attack occurred there.
Related: Texas Dog Bite Law
To file a dog bite claim in Plano, contact The Zendeh Del Law Firm, PLLC today!